How Long Does Loose Leaf Tea Last? Does it Ever Expire?


Maybe you've fallen in love with a loose leaf blend from Tiesta Tea and are going to go big and bold by buying in bulk. It's better for your wallet and the planet, after all. But tea, like anything else, isn't a bargain if you waste it. So, should you stock up on your favorites? Will it go bad before you get to the bottom of the bag? We've got the tea. 

Does Loose Leaf Tea Ever Expire? 

The short answer is no. While the tea you purchase, whether online, in the store, will have a date printed on it that you may think of as the expiration date. Instead, it is a sell-by date, which is not the same as an expiration date or a use-by date. Eventually, tea may go stale, or it may simply lose some of its flavor, aroma, or color, but it hasn't gone bad. 

Any Tiesta Tea you purchase will have a date printed on them 18 months after the date it was packed. In fact, our teas display a "sell-by" date. It is not a safety date. Instead, it tells the store how long to keep the product for sale for inventory management. 

If you find yourself wondering, "can I drink this old tea?" the answer is yes. Nothing will happen to you if you drink it. It's completely safe. The worst-case scenario? You may be disappointed by the experience of a boring, bland cup of tea. 

One potential workaround if you know you're brewing tea that's a bit past its peak date? You can attempt to compensate for the inevitably softer, flat flavor by steeping the leaves longer. 

How Long Does Green Tea Last?

Our loose leaf green teas are marked for our vendors to sell by 18 months after packing. That means you can certainly enjoy these Slenderizer blends for a minimum of one and a half years. However, green tea can last much longer with proper storage –– even up to three years, despite not being fermented like its fully fermented black tea counterpart. 

How Long Does Black Tea Last?

Black tea has a longer shelf life than green tea since it is fully fermented, but like all of our teas, that's not the date you'll see on your packaging. The best way to store black tea (or any tea) is in a tin. Lucky for you, all of our teas are available in colorful, countertop-approved tins. 

Sealed in our tins, black tea can be stored for about three years. If stored in bulk, the shelf life can shorten to about a year and a half. That's mostly a result of sunlight, moisture, and other elements that can strip the tea of some of its bold, deep flavors, scent, and colors. 

How Long Does Matcha Tea Last?

Matcha is quite different from green or black tea, despite being made from the leaves of the same plant. Due to the way it's grown and processed, matcha powder's shelf life may differ from regular tea. 

A really simple way to tell if the matcha has started to lose its flavor and potency is by looking at the color. Our matcha is bright green. Over time, it will lose that vibrant color and turn a bit brown –– that's a good indication that it's past its prime. 

The decline in flavor and potency of your matcha can be kept at bay with proper storage, especially once you've opened the package. Once you've opened your matcha powder, we recommend drinking it within about one to two months to reap the most benefits –– and flavor. 

Again, it's essential to know that the sell-by date for matcha does not indicate its safety. You can absolutely drink matcha after its sell-by date, but it may have lost some of its benefits since catechins can degrade with time. If you find yourself with some matcha that's past its prime, we recommend baking with it. 

How Long Does Herbal Tea Last?

A fun fact here that's often forgotten, but herbal tea, despite its name, contains no actual tea. Rather, herbal teas are comprised of flowers, herbs, fruits, and more. That said, herbal tea's shelf life is around one and a half years, like the true tea varieties. Upon opening your package or tin of tea, your nose and eyes will give you a good indication of whether your herbal blend is still super fresh. As time goes on and air and moisture enter the packaging, your herbal teas will fade in color and smell –– so you'll know before even brewing it up if it's going to be worth the sip! 

How to Keep Loose Leaf Tea Fresh

Keeping loose leaf tea in the proper storage conditions is essential to prolonging the life of your tea. Tea is sensitive to temperature fluctuations and moisture escaping the leaves. 

The shelf life of your tea depends almost entirely on how well you store it. Much like coffee, tea does best when stored out of light, in a tin can, and a cool dark place. Additionally, keep tea away from heat. The cabinet above your stove? While it may have space for your tea, it's not your best bet. The heat and odors from cooking food can damage the tea. 

People often ask if tea can be stored in the fridge or freezer. We do not advise this as the cold temperatures can cause condensation, which leads to mold. Plus, tea can take on the taste and scent of things it's been stored with, which no one wants. 

Generally speaking, it's not difficult to figure out if tea has gone bad. You'll have lost aroma, color, and freshness. The date on the label is more of an indication of how long you can expect to experience the full flavor that blend has to offer. It will still be safe to use after that date. But for us, tea lovers, a sell-by or expiration date is of no consequence since you'll have enjoyed every last bit long before it reaches its best by date! 

Ready to Try Some Loose Leaf Tea? 

At Tiesta Tea, we travel around the globe to source the best quality ingredients to produce the best cup of tea. We believe in making loose leaf tea that's accessible and affordable without sacrificing quality. Ready to brew up some premium loose leaf tea? Check out our top-selling teas here. And cheers to Living Loose! 

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